Arlette van der Veer (KLM): “Airlines should cooperate with Formula 1”

Airlines should accelerate their innovation to get the job of decarbonization done. They could learn from Formula 1 car builders, says Arlette van der Veer, KLM's Senior Manager for Radical Innovation.

In an interview about sustainable aviation with Simple Flying, Van der Veen states that, to meet the targets of 2050, aviation should learn from both the medical industry as well as Formula One. "Their (F1) innovation cycle is incredibly fast. They have a new car every year - we have a new plane every 30 or 40 years. Why don't we cooperate with Formula One car builders, where you also have extremely high safety standards for materials and technology? Why don't we look at the medical industry, which also has ways to innovate? I think the key problem of our industry is that we do not absorb external knowledge quickly enough.”

Van der Veer insists that the rapid deployment of innovative and new technology is more crucial than ever before. Radical innovation – Van der Veer’s field of expertise – is a type of innovation that uses new knowledge from outside the business to develop new products and services.

To make that innovation happen, aircraft manufacturers should be able and willing to cooperate. “What we need are regulatory bodies that learn to certify ecosystem designs. For example, the ideal aircraft would be designed by a combination of Airbus, Boeing, Embraer, and many more. But for that to happen, you need original equipment manufacturers who are open to sharing all this because, even by statistics, the perfect sustainable aircraft cannot be built by one aircraft builder alone. You need multiple sources of data, and you need multiple sources of knowledge."